Monument record IPS 881 - Iron Age/Roman and Medieval settlement and agricultural activity at Henley Gate, Ipswich.

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Full excavation report to follow, Iron Age/Roman and Medieval settlement and agricultural activity predominantly evidence by boundary ditches and pits was identified by evaluation trenching.


Grid reference Centred TM 1637 4766 (1045m by 1004m)
Map sheet TM14NE


Type and Period (18)

Full Description

2016: An evaluation was carried out in relation to a proposed housing-led development and was the third phase of archaeological fieldwork on the site, having been preceded by field-walking and a geophysical survey. Ninety evaluation trenches were excavated, covering approximately 7300m2 of the c.76ha site. The site was on undulating land in an area of mostly heavy clay soils derived from the underlying Lowestoft Till. A localised deposit of glacial sand and gravel forms a distinct knoll at the east end of the site. A probable Later Bronze Age un-urned cremation was found on relatively high
ground overlooking a valley to the north of the site. Several foci of Early/Middle Iron Age occupation were found across the area of the site. A significant result of the fieldwork was the confirmation of a ditched enclosure (suggested by the preceding geophysical survey) on the knoll at the east end of the
site. This is dated provisionally to the Early/Middle Iron Age, with activity in this area continuing into the Late Iron Age/early Roman period. A large pit or ditch produced Ipswich ware pottery and associated refuse, suggesting Middle Saxon occupation in the immediate vicinity. A medieval occupation site was found in the western part of the site, close to modern Henley Road. Part of a cobbled surface (a floor, yard or track) and a possible beaten earth floor or external surface are dated by pottery to the 12th- or early 13th century. A small clay extraction pit nearby contained pottery of the same date. There was no evidence for continued occupation of the site in the later medieval
period. Some post-medieval ditches represented field boundaries that were backfilled following the construction of what is now the East Suffolk railway line in the 1850s. (S3)

2016-2017: The evaluation results demonstrated a low-level of correspondence with the preceding geophysical survey. Most of the below-ground archaeological remains found were not previously detectable as either cropmarks or geophysical survey anomalies. A low density of scattered remains of prehistoric material was recovered across the site, mostly as residual artefacts in later features. A single pit containing a substantial quantity of burnt flint, of possible Bronze Age date was located in the north of the site. A number of field boundary ditches and pits pf both Early/Middle Iron Age and Late Iron Age/Early Roman date were recorded in the west part of the site. Identified in both phases of evaluation these remains probably constitute settlement and agricultural land use activities. Middle Saxon and medieval period features, perhaps denoting small rural settlements or processing areas, were found in two separate trenches during the first phase of the site evaluation only. These are outside the Phase 1 development area. Post-medieval field boundary ditches and a quarry pit demonstrate later use of the site for agricultural and extraction activities (S1).

2018: Three excavation areas, totalling c.1.87ha, were opened in the SW of the site following earlier evaluation of c.76ha in 2016 and 2017 which identified Iron Age and Early Roman activity. In 2018, a small quantity of prehistoric worked flint and pottery was found to be residual in later features across the excavation areas. The remains of Early Iron Age roundhouses and post-built structures were scattered across the excavation areas, with two possible roundhouses possibly within a small linear enclosure, perhaps representing the main area of settlement occupation. A loose cluster of pits and post-holes indicated limited land use throughout this period, with recovered loom weights and saddle querns suggestive of occupation activity. Roman remains concentrated in the S of the site comprised three phases of Early Roman field boundaries and enclosure. No structural evidence was present, with remains of activity located within the bounded areas demonstrated by scattered pits and post-holes. Strip field systems of narrow parallel ditches/gullies were encountered across all three excavation areas. Despite the limited, largely residual, material recovered from these features, their stratigraphic relationship with earlier and later features was suggestive of a medieval date. A small number of late post-medieval/modern pits, some indicative of quarrying, demonstrated the continued agricultural nature of land use on site.

Included in the Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History annual round up of individual finds and discoveries for 2018. (S2)

Full excavation report to follow.

Sources/Archives (3)

  • <S1> Unpublished document: King, S.. 2017. Phase 2 Archaeological Evaluation: Phase 1 Development Henley Gate, Ipswich.
  • <S2> Article in serial: Minter, F., Rolfe, J. and Saunders, A.. 2019. Archaeology in Suffolk 2018, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History.
  • <S3> Unpublished document: Heard, K.. 2016. Archaeological Evaluation: Henley Gate, Ipswich.

Finds (21)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Nov 28 2022 1:10PM

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